President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday.
Iraq is too important, geopolitically and strategically, to leave. But note something else: the model being suggested is South Korea, not Japan or Germany. South Korea was a dictatorship (albeit a friendly one) for a long time. Democracy was desired, and encouraged insofar that it didn't threaten US interests, but it was never the primary goal of American policy. It's a long way from the neocon vision of remaking the Middle East. It also fits the architecture of the new American embassy, Fort Baghdad.
The United States has had thousands of U.S. troops in South Korea to guard against a North Korean invasion for 50 years.
Democrats in control of the U.S. Congress have been pressing Bush to agree to a timetable for pulling troops from Iraq, an idea firmly opposed by the president.
White House spokesman Tony Snow said Bush would like to see a U.S. role in Iraq ultimately similar to that in South Korea in which "you get to a point in the future where you want it to be a purely support model."
"The Korean model is one in which the United States provides a security presence, but you've had the development of a successful democracy in South Korea over a period of years, and, therefore, the United States is there as a force of stability," Snow told reporters.